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ravenousveggie

Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general

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Happiness

Monthly Loves – April

April – a month of holidays, warmer weather and a special party

  • Seville – My partner and I managed to escape the cooler weather and spent 6 nights in Seville.  It is a lovely city, easily discoverable on foot (and lot of trams to get around on) plus great train links to other cities.  We also managed a day trip to Cadiz by train. Eating out as a vegetarian was interesting but not overly difficult. The restaurants in the centre generally had a better vegetarian choice.  The restaurants used by the locals were more limited, but did have better atmosphere. Our hotel also had an excellent environmental policy……

  • Dance In The Hurricane – I am a  big fan of Toyah and have been since 1980.  Her latest album, In The Court Of the Crimson Queen, is a great re-working of a previous album with some great new tracks added.  Dance In The Hurricane is probably my favourite new track. It is deeply personal and poignant and brings back memories to me of my own family.  
  • We celebrated my Aunt Meg’s 90th birthday, and I was put in charge of organising the cake for the party.  To be honest I was a bit daunted by this. I love cake and am great at eating it, but cooking or ordering one was a whole new world for me. I also had to please both my sister and my aunt.  No pressure then. Making it myself was an immediate no go. Time constraints and my inability to cook any cake that doesn’t come our brick-like were my biggest issues. But trying to find a cake maker who could do produce one was much more of a struggle than i expected.  Apparently they get fully booked up months in advance. Luckily for me I found Putty Cakes, who produced the most amazing cake, beautifully decorated and conveniently located on the way to the party venue.

Service With A Smile

It never ceases to amaze me how the attitude of staff in the same company can vary so much and make so much of a difference to your experience with that company.

Today  I ventured out to meet a friend and decided that I would take the bus rather than drive or take the train. I travel a lot for work and tend to drive so was keen to be able to switch off for a bit.  I could have taken the train however it means changing and hopping the connecting trains are working. And with Southern and that is all a bit up in the air. The bus gave the option of starting my journey within easy reach of my home, takes rough the same time as the train, but required no changes.  On top of that the return fare was over £4 cheaper.

It is my first time doing such a journey on a bus and the driver on the way out did not instill me with the sunny disposition a first time journey requires.  In fact he was quite gruff and appeared bored, even slightly annoyed, that someone wanted to get on his bus. When I arrived at my destination I wanted to check where the return bus stop was.  He looked slightly miffed at my question and, whilst answering, did not look at me at all.

Ho hum. At least I knew how to get home.  


Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

The driver on the way back was completely different. Friendly smile when I got on, and happily checked my ticket and welcomed me aboard.   He greeted everyone who got on board and patiently and politely answered all questions- giving extra details so you would know exactly where you were going to get off.  This is a man who knows that just having a seat on a bus does not make the journey for a lot of people.

Overall the bus journey was a lot more sedate than taking the train. The passengers tended to be less noisy and would be having happy conversations with each other.  They tended to be on the more mature side. As there are no tables on a bus there was less spreading of belongings and generally people kept themselves and their litter, to themselves.

I will be taking the bus more often in the future.

Bad News

Recently two friends gave me bad news – they told me they had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t know they had gone for tests or that they had concerns. But then again why should I?  I would probably keep quiet about it until I knew for certain.

In a moment I could see their lives falling apart around them.  They are both waiting for full diagnoses and treatment plans, so the future for them both is uncertain.

Naturally they are worried and thinking of the worst case scenario. Our discussions have ranged from organising the practical (work cover, wills, getting to appointments etc) to things they want to achieve before they die. The holidays they want to have, friends they want to see, things they want to experience.

All I could do was to be as supportive as possible, whilst trying to control my own shock, disbelief and emotions.  In a weird way I too felt my own world starting to crumble a little.

One friend is also a client so there was also a brief thought about loss of income as well as a good friend.  Of course I felt guilty for thinking this. In no way is loss of work greater that the loss of health, or a good friend. It was just one of those impact thoughts that naturally crop up and disappear as quickly as they came.

After these two bomb shells I was feeling a little battered  by life. Not for my own situation but for that’s of my friends.


Photo by Charity Beth Long on Unsplash


As the saying goes “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”.  And with that in mind I fully intend to make sure their coming journeys are supported and filled with good memories as much as I can, whatever the outcomes.  

Distractions

We all lead busy lives these days and everywhere we go there are distractions.  Most of these distractions are from electronic devices – phones, tables, laptops, tvs, and radios. All a constant in the background.

You can go to a restaurant and see whole families sitting together, but distracted by their phones.  No interaction with each other. No conversation. Nothing. Everyone distracted but sitting in silence.  Even the act of going out to eat taking away any interaction soundness preparing food.

As someone who leads a very busy life my head gets full of noise and distractions.  Between work and voluntary commitments i rarely get a chance to get away from the technology.  To an extent I accept this way of living. I do have an email free day once a week, but being connected via social media and text still leaves little time for me to switch off.

So I find myself on a girls weekend to Champneys.  A chance to relax and unwind in great company and enjoy a little pampering at the same time.

I get to my room.  It is comfortable it’s a lovely view out onto the grounds. All I can hear is the sound of running water from the river outside.  I stand and stare at the TV on the wall, slightly surprised to see it, but not really knowing why.  Perhaps I assumed that TV and WiFi old be frowned upon. It turns out that you are allowed these in your room, however phones are frowned upon in communal areas.  

I made a decision at that point not to automatically put the tv on when I was in my room.  I wanted peace and quiet and I wouldn’t get it with distractions. I resolved to spend some time in my room each day sitting and reading.  Just me, the sounds of the river and people using the grounds.

It was bliss.  Not being connected  or subjected to noise of some kind.  My mind stopped whining. The tension began to subside.  Even whilst enjoying the spa and great company, I found myself secretly looking forward to my escape to my quiet place.  

Although the break was for only a few days I came back refreshed.  A combination of enforced relaxation and the warm surroundings of the spa were exactly what I needed in a cold, dull January.

It struck me that I need to build in some quiet time in my daily life.  Time to sit and read, write in my journal, or just listen to the sounds.  This is something I will endeavour to do to help keep my mind quiet and able to concentrate better.


Photo by Niklas Wersinger on Unsplash

Sounds

I met up with a friend recently to have a catch up and also do some work together.  As the conversation lulled and we both went back to concentrating on our tasks at hand I became aware of the sounds in the room.

I became mesmerized and relaxed by one sound in particular – that of my friend typing.  She is a really good touch typist and the sound of her fingers on the keyboard, lightly drumming away, produce a satisfying tapping sound that I tuned into to.

It got me thinking of other sounds that have this effect on myself or people I know.  My sister will happily fall asleep to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. The sound of the sea will do the same for me.  If I wake in the night and my mind is racing I move to a room where there is a ticking clock. This monotonous sounds switches my mind off and usually enables me to drift off to sleep.


The sound of rain is also strangely relaxing to me – sometimes the heavier the better.  It helps my mind to stop, empty a little and stop whirring.

There are also some sounds which can be irritating.  The sound of people eating is a stress trigger for me.  As is loud music or angry voices when I am trying to concentrate.  I get a real urge to get away from these sounds.

It would be interesting to know what sounds make you relax and zone out, and which ones really irritate you.

Focus on the Positive

How often do you find yourself fixating on the things that didn’t go well, rather than looking at the positive things from your day?

I’m all for learning from mistakes, and reviewing things to see how to make them better in the future.  But focussing on the negatives (even if your aim is to correct them) can wear you down.

How often to you take time to out to review what you have done well, reviewed your strengths or your wins?

I expect that the answer is not very often, leaving you mulling over the things that could have gone better.



Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Try taking five minutes at the end of each day to write down three things that you did well, or went well.  This will help you identify your strengths and wins. It will also give you something to look back on when you are in need of a lift.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of three things every day.  Even one thing will help redress the balance of focussing on the things that could have gone better..  Hopefully this will give your confidence a small boost.

You could also do the same at the end of each month.What went well?  What did you learn from? What do you need to change ot meet your goals?  Just remember

You are capable.

You do have many strengths and talents.

You just need to remind yourself.

Brain Meltdown

Some days you get home and just feel as though your brain is in meltdown.

Today was one of those days.

My first client today is a lovely lady who I visit once a month.  The main aim is to keep her up to date on dealing with her paperwork and supporting her to navigate a complicated financial situation and also sorting out care for her elderly relative.  Today’s challenge was to keep her on track.

Due to a family health scare, her mind was understandably elsewhere.  As usual I started by asking her what tasks were top of her priority list, and started working on these.

The first one was easy and soon dealt with.  The other was a bit more tricky. It involved confirming a seat on a flight and printing a boarding pass. Normally this is quite straight forward, however a strange alert came up when I tried to reserve the seat.  I rang the number on the site and soon all was sorted. I then went back in to print off the boarding pass. This time it showed the seats I had booked but still wouldn’t let me pass the seat reservation stage. Alarm bells started ringing.  My client then recalled an email she had received the day before saying that the flight had been cancelled. She had dismissed it as a scam email as the the email address didn’t look correct and there were numerous typing errors throughout the email.  Added to the fact that we could still go ahead and log on to confirm the flight, with no mention of cancellation, it was put down to being a scam.



Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

We found another phone number and rang it.  This took us through to a a customer service centre and a lovely chap who confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and apologised that he could not rebook the ticket for the time that was needed.  He also took on board that the email looked fake, and gully explained the reason for the cancellation. Not much help for my client who was travelling for work, and could not rebook to a different destination.  I was more taken back by the fact that one part of the same company did not know that the flight had been cancelled.

After this the rest of the tasks were soon dealt with and I was soon on my way to my next meeting.

This I knew would be more challenging.

I have a mentee who is just starting up a business. The business idea is sound, and my mentee has a lot of experience in the area.  But my mentee is an over-thinker. If any scrap of doubt can creep in, it will. Our first meeting was quite intense – my mentee swinging from complete confidence to giving up her dream in the space of every twenty minutes or so.

This meeting was to discuss the content for her new website.  I had previously had a panicked telephone call the week before as my mentee became over anxious about what she was writing and again felt like giving up.  Twenty minutes later I had managed to calm her down and get her back on track. It was her desire to get everything right first time that was holding her back.  And if she couldn’t think of the perfect thing first time then she seemed to go into a spin and start questioning everything.

So it is fair to say that I was going to this meeting with a little trepidation. My mentee was all smiles and looking relaxed when I arrived. She produced the pagers of copy for her website and I started reading.  It was all good stuff – covered everything it needed to, from the background of the company to services and charges.

I was half way through the first page when it started.  A barage of questions and doubts and ‘is this right?, or should I change this?’ To be honest I really wanted to shout out ‘will you shut up and let me read?!’, but I thought better of it – the genteel patrons of a Waitrose coffee shop probably wouldn’t survive it.

By this point in the day I was tired and trying to concentrate on what I was reading, whilst being asked questions about sections I hadn’t read yet, just didn’t work. I stopped what I was doing. My brain stopped. I just stared at my mentee – paralysed by the amount of things I was being asked to do and not managing any of it.

A few moments later I was back in the room.  Putting my game face on and getting my mentee to calm down.  We calmly went through each area she was having issues with and came up with alternative wording, or put her fears to rest.  An hour and half later we said goodbye and went our separate ways.

When I got home I just felt exhausted.  My brain felt soft and mushy. I looked at the kettle – I knew what it did but had no idea how to use it.  How could this have happened to me? I have had days where I have been pulled in various different directions by different clients (and the same ones!) and had to field multiple interruptions, but never had I felt like this.  Part of me wanted to feel angry at my mentee. Surely if she has this amount of doubt on the finer points of her business then she won’t be able to sustain the business. Should I tell her to stop aiming for her dreams and go an get a job?  But her background and experience says differently. And the business idea she has is really good.

I resolved to put it down to experience.  I can’t expect all mentees, or clients, to be calm and not sweat the small stuff.  Or to realise that things can usually be changed in the future – websites updated when the perfect wording comes to mind, or business cards and flyers changed when the first batch runs out.  I just need to find a better way of dealing with this situation in the future.

My biggest issue now was to tend to my mushed brain and get myself back on track.  A task which involved something slightly stronger than a cup of tea.

Monthly Loves – December

December – that month of cramming in work, parties and shopping before a long break (if you are lucky) where time seems to stand still and days become one big blur..  

  • Christmas Festivities – although Christmas has changed for me a lot over the last few years, I still enjoying to see the energy and enjoyment it brings to so many people.  
  • I had a lovely Christmas meal with a client at The Half Moon at Warninglid.  Probably the best veggie meal I hd out this month. Not sure what the usual menu is like, but I know my other half will love the food there, so planning a trip back at some point.
  • Hot chocolate made with almond milk.  The best dairy free alternative and flavour combination I have found to date.
  • Mal Maison – probably my favourite hotel chain who also cater well for vegetarians.  The staff are always welcoming and the decor is sumptuous. Don’t visit very often but I am never disappointed.
  • Christmas Dinner – I made a simple but gorgeous veggie main using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s receipe for baked mushrooms with kale and walnuts. It went perfectly with all the roast veg and trimmings and was really filling. And it to no time to prepare and cook! Find the receipe in his River Cottage Much More Veg book
  • If you read my latest blog you will think I did nothing over the Christmas break, however I did spend a good few hours planning my business for the next 12 months.  Business planning sounds quite boring, but I am now focussed on what I want to achieve, and how to achieve it. I found it a very energising process and am looking forward to 2019.
  • Presents – my lovely friends and family showered me with an array of environmentally friendly and home-made gifts, helping my journey to reducing plastic and treading more lightly on the earth.

Weighty Issue

When people find out that I am vegetarian 95% of the time they remark” really? You don’t look like one”. Apart from asking “what does a vegetarian look like?” I never really know how to react to this.

Society today is obsessed with the  ‘perfect body’. We know that magazines  are full of photoshopped images and that most people now have a distorted idea of what a healthy body should look like – at any age.  Even though I am aware of all of this it does make me slightly uneasy with my own figure.

I mostly eat healthily  – veg, salad, pulses, nuts, fruit – however I have a very real love affair with sugar.  I don’t do artificial sweeteners and haven’t found a stevia product I like the after taste of.  



Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

This sugar issue means that I am slightly more ‘cuddly’ in the middle than society would like.  I am still a healthy weight though.

Various changes in myth life  over the last few years have meant that  I am not getting to the gym as much (or ever) as I used to.  I pretty much work 6 days a week. This means that on my free days catching up on housework and relaxing tend to get top priority.  Getting out to exercise has dropped off the priority list.

I am very aware that this is within my control (to a great extent).  I have chosen to re-prioritise exercise in my life. It is something I am reviewing.

My busy life means that I tend to have less time to prepare food than I used to.  The ‘on the go’ food options for veggies predominantly focus on cheese and bread options, or over chilled sandwiches of egg or tomato that leave them tasteless.  Or chips. Love chips!

Although the range of veggie food is slowly changing, for me interesting, tasty, easy to eat veggie food on the go still mostly doesn’t exist.

With a bit of extra effort I can remedy this situation, and I am making changes.  However wouldn’t it be nice to have a larger, more widely available choice of healthy , vegetarian fast food?  All those shelves of chicken salad – could we not have the option of buying a salad and then a ‘protein’ to go with it?  A flexible meal deal to appeal to everyone? Or am I the only one who is bored with the current offerings?

For now I am putting extra effort into making my own lunches and tking healthy snacks with me. It still doesn’t stop the lure of a good doughnut, but it is a start.

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